"He wants Rocco to have the confidence he lacked growing up and thinks Madonna's stern parental style is counterproductive," a Ritchie source says of the British director, who struggled with severe dyslexia as a child. "The welfare of Rocco is Guy's priority."
After traveling with his mom for three months on her Rebel Heart tour, Rocco left his mom in December to live with his dad in the U.K. When the teen refused to return to the U.S. for the holidays, Madonna appeared in a New York courtroom on Dec. 23, where a judge reportedly ordered that Rocco come home to New York so his parents – who finalized their nasty divorce in 2008 – could sort out his living situation.
As PEOPLE reported last week, Rocco hasn't returned home to Madonna yet, and a source close to the singer alleges he has missed school. According to the Ritchie source, Rocco thinks his Manhattan private school is elitist, and he misses spending time with his friends in London. (Despite tabloid reports that the teen is refusing to return to New York because of a girlfriend, the Ritchie source says, "There's nobody serious he's dating at the moment.")
A friend of the former couple told PEOPLE last week the custody battle stems from a ''power struggle'' between Madonna, 57, and Ritchie, 47. ("They don't have a good relationship; it's more of a power fight between them and if he can one-up her. This is the best way he can do it," the friend said at the time.)
But the Ritchie source says the squabble isn't about getting back at his ex.
"Guy is convinced Madonna has long misrepresented him," says the Ritchie source. "Perhaps the best example of this is her subsequent sentiment that he liked to film her unflatteringly during their marriage in Swept Away and various videos."
Madonna and Ritchie are due in court for a second hearing on Feb. 3; reps for the exes could not be reached for comment.